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Approved research

Assessment of genotype-to-phenotype relationships for the purpose of novel therapeutic development

Principal Investigator: Dr Joshua Lichtman
Approved Research ID: 53192
Approval date: December 17th 2019

Lay summary

NGM is a research-focused drug discovery company with an 11-year history of making important contributions to basic biomedical research and transforming those discoveries into novel therapeutics. NGM recognizes the immense importance of human genetics and the UK Biobank's extensive phenotypic data as a means for both novel target discovery and for determining the patients most likely to benefit from the therapies we are currently developing. With clinical programs in the areas of liver disease, metabolic disease, ophthalmology and oncology, the diversity of our interests nicely parallels the diversity of phenotypic data available in the biobank. NGM would specifically like to explore genotype-phenotype relationships within these data with the ultimate goal of translating those discoveries into new treatments for disease. We will start by applying statistical genetics approaches which will mainly focus on rarely-occurring DNA variants which are found in just a handful of people. By comparing their unique genetics to the broad assortment of traits, we can better understand the relationship between the genes and patient health. Understanding the connection in humans between certain genes and the traits that they govern is an essential first step in developing new therapies that will ultimately benefit a large number of patients. The therapies currently under development at NGM would also benefit as our insight into the human biology of their protein targets is fairly limited. We also plan to publish our findings from this work, as we have done many times in the past (i.e. Hsu et al. Nature 2017, Ge et al. Cell Metab. 2018, Harrison et al. Lancet 2018), so that these data can be shared with the scientific community and the public. This motivation precisely fits the UK Biobank's desire to support health-related research and advance the public interest.